Top 10 Scary Plants For Halloween


I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween
outside of the free candy I scored trick-or-treating as a kid. I’ve left the
horror genre of moves relatively unseen. I guess I’m just not into anything
scary and that extends into plant life as well. You may be wondering what
plants could possibly be scary. Believe me, there are plenty out there. Here
are the top 10 scary plants for Halloween or, in my case, the top 10 plants to
avoid!

White
baneberry
(Actaea pachypoda): Also known as doll’s-eyes, this plant, which
grows two feet (61 cm.) tall, starts out innocent enough with clusters of white
flowers. But it’s from these white flowers that something sinister emerges,
namely eyeballs…a lot of eyeballs. These “eyeballs,” or round, white berries,
are tipped with a single black dot and connected to a blood-red stalk. The
berries are poisonous to humans. If you hail from the Midwest or the Northeast
and you feel like somebody is watching you, it could very well by the baneberry
doll’s eye plant
.

Bleeding
tooth fungus
(Hydellum peckii): Bleeding
tooth fungus
, when young and moist, secretes a thick red liquid (which
resembles blood) through the pores of its semi-round white or pinkish-red cap. This
nightmarish looking plant, which lives among the conifers in the Pacific
Northwest, is also referred to as “strawberries and cream,” for it bears a
strong resemblance to the dessert, which is now on my forbidden food list.

Venus
flytrap
(Dionaea muscipula): I would be remiss if I didn’t include the Venus
flytrap
, which had a starring role in the Rick Moranis flick “Little Shop
of Horrors.” Unlike the plant in the movie though, the real-life version of only
dines on insects. When the flytrap needs to feed, it opens its leaves very wide
and secretes a nectar along the rim. Insects are lured into thinking they are
visiting a sweet flower. If, when feasting on the nectar, the insect touches
and triggers a sensor hair twice within 20 seconds, the leaves of the plant
clamp shut and the insect is trapped.

Devil’s
claw or ram’s horn
(Proboscidea louisianica): This low-growing Southwestern native has
creamy-white to pink orchid-like flowers that are spotted with purple. This
plant produces large, hornlike fruit (which is why it’s also commonly referred
to as “unicorn plant”). Fruit left on the devil’s
claw plant
will eventually transform into woody seed pods covered in
prickly spines, which split open revealing a pair of long curved claws that
look like pincers will try to ensnare you. 

White
ghosts or Indian pipes
(Monotropa uniflora): Aptly named for its
waxy white, translucent appearance, the 4- to 8-inch (10-20 cm.) tall Indian
pipe
will spook you in most temperate regions of the United States. This
parasitic plant, which lives in the understory of a forest, does not contain
chlorophyll. It acquires its energy via myccorhizal fungi that sap nutrients
and carbohydrates from tree roots.

Cobra
lily plant
(Darlingtonia californica): This isn’t a lily at all but a carnivorous
pitcher plant
, which occupies boggy habitats in Northern California and
Oregon. It resembles sinister serpentines with slithering tongues, hence its
name of cobra
lily

Bat
face cuphea plant
(Cuphea llavea): This plant has creepy blooms that look like purple
hairy bat faces with red petal ears, but it does have a redeeming quality – its
colorful nectar-laden flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. If the
looks of bat
face cuphea
doesn’t drive you batty, you can grow it as a perennial in USDA
zones 10 or above, or as an annual in cooler climates.

Black
bat flower
(Tacca chantrieri): After #7, I just thought I’d throw this one in
here to really drive everyone bat crazy! Envision a 12-inch (30 cm.) wide black
flower that looks like a bat face with whiskers up to 28 inches (71 cm.) long
on a long stem above a base of broad shiny leaves.  And there you have it…black
bat flower
. You can thank me later.

Corpse
flower
(Amorphophallus titanum): This plant commands a large presence in
both stature (it reaches heights up to 10 feet and can weigh up to a few
hundred pounds or more) and in smell. Corpse flower takes up to 10 years to
bloom, and only lasts 24-36 hours when it does. Thank goodness, though. Take
one whiff of this plant in bloom and you will be scared away. In order to attract
pollinators, it literally gives off a pungent smell reminiscent of rotting
flesh. If this doesn’t deter you, your best bet of interacting (or gagging)
with it is in a botanical garden.

Brain
cactus
(Mammillaria elongata ‘Cristata’): A succulent with twisty sinewy
growth that looks like brains, the brain
cactus
is a Hannibal Lector worthy addition to our list, although I don’t
think he’d find this one as tasty.

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